By Ashis Ray
Nottingham, July 12 :
The Indian fast bowlers’ inability to bowl yorkers cost them two possible victories in South Africa and New Zealand last winter. In England’s first innings here, the same shortcoming, arguably, denied them a lead and astonishingly put them in arrears. They will now have to bat well into the fifth and final day in their second venture to prevent a disaster of defeat.
Even a slower bowler worth his salt should possess a yorker in his armoury. It is baffling that in an era of Twenty20 where a yorker is a potent weapon, none of India’s medium pacers were able to produce this.
At tea Friday, after the home side had lost their seventh wicket for 202, former England captain and now Sky Sports anchor David Gower asked on air if India would enforce a follow on. Sourav Ganguly, the erstwhile Indian skipper and presently a commentator, replied the tourists wouldn’t as the current helmsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, according to him, would prefer to give his bowlers a rest.
England, of course, saved the follow on, but their ninth wicket fell at 298 and an Indian lead of 150 wasn’t beyond the realms of reason or reality. But a tired and repetitive attack permitted the fluent Yorkshireman Joe Root, who remained unconquered on 154, and the 11th man James Anderson to realise a world record partnership for the 10th wicket of 198, surpassing the previous best of 163 by Phil Hughes and Ashton Agar of Australia here a year ago.
Never in the history of Test cricket have 10th wicket pairs posted century stands in consecutive innings and number 11s got half centuries, as well. If anything, this testifies to the utter lifelessness of the pitch.
Following pleasantly proactive captaincy in the middle session on the third day, Dhoni receded to his customary lack of imagination as a Test tactician.
On the third day, he could have persevered with the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja because Anderson betrayed uncertainty by chancing his arm against him. Furthermore, he left Root off the hook by concentrating his attack solely on Anderson. It was also inexplicable that he set an umbrella field for Anderson when he was past 50.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar ultimately relieved India’s agony with the aid of a splendid slip catch diving to his right side by Shikhar Dhawan. By this stage England had recorded a first innings lead of 39.
Kumar, no more than military medium, was rewarded for his ability to swing the ball, always an asset in English conditions. Given his somewhat open-chested action, his natural delivery is the in-swinger.
But he has, with a slightly different wrist action, developed an out-swinger. And such variation could fetch him more success over the summer. Indeed, his five wicket haul should instil in him confidence for the rest of the series.